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Surgical robotics is experiencing an explosion of growth in both academic and clinical settings. Since the first reported robotic surgical procedure two decades ago, surgical robotics has grown into more than a half billion dollar a year industry, and robots are now being used in thousands of surgical procedures each year. One especially successful commercial robot, Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci system for laparoscopic procedures, has been installed worldwide in more than 1,000 locations. This growth is a direct result of the promise of surgical robots to improve patient care. Integration of robot hardware with computer-integrated surgical systems has the potential to enable precise, targeted, minimally invasive medical interventions. Robotic devices are enabling physicians to perform procedures with reduced trauma, less blood loss, fewer errors, and faster patient recovery than would otherwise be possible. Robotics technology can also enhance the effectiveness of clinical procedures by coupling information sources such as medical images to actions in the operating room.